Tuesday 5 June 2012


2x15 Suicide Squeeze
Apparently Channel 5 are stopping Castle now for, of all things, Big Brother... and until next year too. That's at least 7 months' pause, mid-season. What the hell?! I may switch to downloads.
[Watch it (again) on Demand 5.]

Mad Men
5x10 Christmas Waltz
Last week Dark Shadows, this week Star Trek; they're bidding for the Jaguar account; the season began with a real-life event... Mad Men seems to be getting itself stuck into Real Things much more than it has before. I wonder if there's a reason?
And it's ever so weird watching Christmassy episodes as we head into summer.

Comics: Night of the Owls

Night of the Owls concludes!

I've so far given over two posts to my thoughts on last month's Batman event: for the first half, see Sunday, and for the next few see yesterday.

And so to the final few issues...

Batman: The Dark Knight #9 by Judd Winick & David Finch

Well, that was an odd one. A Talon's perspective on the night, showing some of his earlier life and then his rebirth for this particular night -- a neat idea, and one with some good moments. The Talon in question is the one who killed Lincoln March in Batman #9, so we also get a new perspective on that issue's final pages followed by a What Happened Next.

But... Red Robin is featured prominently on the cover, but turns up for just one panel, in which nothing like the cover event occurs. What was he doing during the Night? I don't think it's covered anywhere. Incredibly odd choice for a cover image, anyway. Then the issue ends with this particular Talon slinking off into the sewers, still alive. Will he be revisited later? I doubt it -- The Dark Knight is moving on; this event hasn't even been referred to in Batman so it'd be weird to bring it up later.

Batman Annual #1 by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV & Jason Fabok

Here's one that's included in the event almost by default. It's really a Mr Freeze story, re-telling his origin with a new New 52 twist, but it takes place on the Night of the Owls (after it, really) and refers to Freeze's involvement in passing. If one were to look back over the event as part of the ongoing Court of Owls story, however, this segment should probably be left out.

As a story in its own right, then, it's incredibly decompressed. Though nearly double the length of a regular issue, I think it could easily be condensed to normal size without too much effort. It's a shame Snyder and Tynion can't put all those extra pages to good use, rather than just use them to tell a short story in more expanded form. So many panels which are so thoroughly pointless... Oh, modern comics.

The main talking point is the new twist at the end. Some people will surely be up in arms about it; personally, I think it's a neat new twist. It changes things in an interesting way, but it's hardly a history-betraying re-write.

Catwoman #9 by Judd Winick & Guillem March

Winick pens his third issue for the Night of the Owls, making him as prolific as event mastermind Scott Snyder. (More so, you could argue, as Snyder only co-wrote Batman Annual and only has two more because the previous month's issue of Batman is also included. But anyway.)

So here we have the last issue of the Night itself (there's still All Star Western, as you can see below, but more on that in a moment). It's the early hours of the morning and Catwoman (and some sidekick she currently has) accidentally runs into a Talon trying to kill the Penguin. She doesn't know about the whole shebang, but fights and defeats him anyway.

And yet, for all that unconnectedness, this is one of the better-characterised Talons of the whole event. Many other issues have tried to make them more than masked assassins, but I think this is the most successful -- even including the issue that was entirely from a Talon's perspective! Seems even with a new writer The Dark Knight can't really succeed... even if that writer also wrote this one. Funny how these things work out.

Oh, and this one is rated T+, presumably because there's a nude male bottom and characters say things like "crap", "hell" and "Godalmighty". Though based on the content/rating dynamic of other books, I imagine the rating came before the content.

All Star Western #9 by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti & Moritat

Difficult to place in a reading list, this: it takes place over a hundred years before the Night itself, but does feature a Talon and is branded as a tie-in. But really, it's shoehorned into the thing, even less significant to the Court of Owls story than some of the standalone ancillary tales from other Bat-books this month (at least those take place on the right night!) Instead, forcing a Talon into the ongoing Hex story means the promising August 7 storyline is cut short -- all wrapped up in just six pages. I worried about that happening when I read the last issue and this one realises my concerns. They seemed to have a lot of potential, so this is real a shame.

Then the Owl thing finishes off the longer plot in another seven pages (was it really so many?!), and a new story begins in the final seven. It would seem efficient were it not for very little happening in each of these long chunks. When All Star is good it's great, but it seems to struggle to transition from one story to the next. You don't need a handover instalment (which they seem to keep doing), just devote a whole issue to a climax and start afresh the month after. As it is, all the endings feel rushed with a tacked-on new beginning. Shame.

Also this issue, the concluding part of Patrick Scherberger-pencilled backup strip Nighthawk and Cinnamon, which has no relation to the Owls whatsoever. It's a decent story, nicely drawn, but there's just so much needless dialogue. It has a kind of B-movie cheesiness which is sort of nice, but even allowing for that being deliberate there's just so much. A little pruning, please.

And that's that! Bit of a downbeat conclusion to the event, with no issue here that really has a significant bearing on the storyline. Indeed, two of them are barely connected at all. Oh well.

Overall, it's been pretty fun. The winner for me is the two-part Nightwing tale, though Red Hood and the Outlaws was surprisingly good too. The main story, taking place in two issues of Batman, felt underwhelming, with a lack of scope considering the Gotham-wide nature of the event -- indeed, such a sense was conveyed better in Batgirl, of all things! Actually, that was one of the event's better issues too.

I imagine the Batman pieces actually fare better when taken as two instalments near the climax of the eleven-issue Court of Owls saga, rather than as the linchpin of the Night of the Owls. That's been a great story and I can't wait to see how it ends.


Christopher Nolan Won’t Make a Howard Hughes Film, But He Still Wants To Direct a Bond Movie
by Russ Fischer (from /Film)

The headline pretty much covers it, except for this tidbit:

Nolan does tell Empire that he met with producers about Bond, but that any film with his name on it “would have to be the right situation and the right time in their cycle of things.” Precisely what “the right situation” is can be open to question, but since part of Nolan’s working method is exerting total control, he might want to cast his own Bond. Given how much effort EON puts into choosing and marketing their Bond, that could be the one and only stumbling block that matters.

Really need to get round to reading that Empire -- it has a huge feature (really, a set of features) on The Dark Knight Rises.

Forecast: Online Demand For Movies, TV Shows Will Top DVD Sales This Year
by Daniel Frankel (from paidContent)

It's a bleak and depressing headline, sure -- online streamed or downloaded video content mostly doesn't have the quality of DVD, and stuff that claims to be HD is nowhere near as good as Blu-ray. Sure, it's fine for the latest trashy blockbuster, even more so for the average viewer; but for those who care about quality and a film-like experience, it's rubbish.

But the news in the article itself is much more heartening:

IHS predicts digital transactions will only yield around $1.7 billion in 2012, compared to $11.1 billion for physical formats. Even by 2016, the research firm projects that digital viewing will only account for 17% of home entertainment revenue...

“We are looking at the beginning of the end of the age of movies on physical media like DVD and Blu-ray. But the transition is likely to take time: almost nine years after the launch of the iTunes Store, CDs are still a vital part of the music business.”

Sounds like we should be getting discs for years -- perhaps decades -- more yet. Hopefully at least time enough for technology to make that streaming/downloaded content achieve the same visual/audio quality as Blu-ray, if not exceed it. Hurrah!